PKAL Faculty for the 21st Century
Lynn O. Lewis
F21 Class of 1994 Statements Revisited
Question: What are the current challenges you are facing in your professional life?
Answer: Finding time to accomplish everything, a challenge that I had in 1994, is still a challenge. However, in the past 12 years much has changed in the way we teach classes - today I would be totally lost without my computer and PowerPoint presentations!! Students expect much more technology. Trying to stay ahead of the curve is pretty daunting. However, my biggest challenge is also one I listed in 1994 - deciding what and how to teach biology to incoming freshman students. We make so many new discoveries every day, and students do read about them. However, do we teach a class in great depth on a few subjects? Try to cover everything we can, but with little depth? Making my task more difficult is that we have mixed majors and nonmajors! Further, the "lines" between the science disciplines are becoming more blurred and we are trying to figure out how to teach interdisciplinary "science" classes while still covering necessary biology, etc., for our majors. .
Question: What do you view as your most promising options and opportunities for the future?
Answer: Technology, as mentioned above, is a huge opportunity. We can provide much more information to our students in a much more organized fashion - including material for them to review outside of class. Which makes it easier to discuss subjects when the students have some background (and you know what that background is since you provided it!). We live in an exciting time as far as biological discoveries go - all of my students have heard of stem cells - and tying the subject to a student's everyday world is much easier. I have the support of my department if I decide I want to change anything in the way that I teach - and because I have tenure and have been promoted to our highest rank, I feel more free to take chances in the classroom!
Question: What will undergraduate STEM be like in 2016, given the urgency of new challenges and opportunities facing our nation?
Answer: I firmly believe that we need to concentrate most on the non-science major as these are the folks who are going to be voting on issues that will affect all of us. We need to do a better job of "science literacy" - not so much the content, but the process of how science works. For the nonmajor who takes only one science course, it needs to be a broader based "science" course - not content in biology or chemistry, etc. I'd like to think that all college students will come out of school with an appreciation of how science is conducted and what kinds of information one can mine from a scientific study. I'm still trying to figure out how to teach them that!